557/2020 - Mr Hermann Kelly and the Business Post
The Press Ombudsman has decided that he has been provided with insufficient evidence to make a decision on a complaint made by Mr Hermann Kelly that the Business Post breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
On 30 August 2020 the Business Post published online a lengthy article on the composition and ideologies of a group of protestors who had demonstrated in Dublin against restrictions to deal with the Coronavirus. The article stated that “… a significant chunk of the crowd were identifiably from far-right anti-immigration groups. The Irish Freedom Party … had several attendees … Its members, including founder Hermann Kelly, have promoted the idea of ‘a great replacement’ of white people with immigrants”.
Mr Kelly wrote to the editor of the Business Post stating that the article was inaccurate because he had “always and very publicly (in print and on radio) stated my belief in one human race and reject any idea of the existence of separate ‘races’ and ideas or talk of racial superiority.” Mr Kelly sought a retraction and correction.
The Business Post responded by stating that it was satisfied with the accuracy of the article and would not be apologising or issuing a correction.
As Mr Kelly was not satisfied with the newspaper’s response he made a formal complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman.
The Business Post in a submission to the Office of the Press Ombudsman stood over the claims made in the article. The editor provided examples of where it had been reported in the past that Mr Kelly had either been associated with or used the term “great replacement” or “great replacement theory”. The first example was a video of Mr Kelly being interviewed along with a far-right activist from Scotland by “a proponent of the great replacement theory”. The editor claims that in this interview Mr Kelly repeatedly agreed with the Scottish interviewee’s views on immigration and the replacement of British people by immigrants. The editor also referred to a tweet from Mr Kelly in which he tweeted “… looks as if those talking about a Great Replacement in Ireland have a point”. A third example provided by the editor referred to an interview in which Mr Kelly spoke about “the great replacement of our children” in the context of immigration.
Mr Kelly responded to the editor’s submission describing it as “reams of waffle but little substance and crucially a complete lack of evidence that I have advocated ideas that white people are being replaced by immigrants”. He said that he did not share the views of the Scottish far-right political activist or the interviewer in the video submitted by the Business Post in its defence of what it had published. He referred to this as “death by association” by the
Business Post. He repeated that the sentence about him published in the Business Post was false and asked for a correction and apology.
As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
Mr Kelly denies the claim made in the Business Post that he has promoted the idea of a “great replacement” of white people by immigrants. The Business Post provided some examples where Mr Kelly may have been associated with others holding racist views and of using the term “great replacement” in a tweet. Neither the complainant nor the newspaper have provided sufficient evidence to allow me to make a determination on the accuracy or otherwise of the statement under complaint.
29 October 2020